Clam Shell Correlations

Pacific High School Students Monitor Clam Shell Abundance


The Redfish Rocks Community Team is collaborating with Charlie Plybon of the Surfrider Foundation, Pacific High School (PHS) students, and ODFW to pilot our new citizen science project.  students are surveying the abundance of Native Little Neck (NLN) Clam Shells at Retz Creek.  The pilot project is underway in order to see if a correlation can be drawn between live clam populations and abundance of clam shells found in the intertidal zone.


Why are we counting clam shells?

1)  ODFW has conducted and completed a survey on live clam shell populations at Retz Creek, located a few miles south of Port Orford.  Retz Creek is lies just outside of the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve.

2)  It is very difficult for ODFW to conduct surveys on live clam populations.  As doing this type of survey requires many hours and days of hard labor, digging in the sand, turning over rocks, and working in the dynamic intertidal environment.

3)  PHS students and Science Teacher Bob Brown have a genuine desire to do meaningful citizen science that could potentially contribute to professional research.  Students also have an interest in clams, as clamming is common past time and harvesting activity in the Port Orford area.


The students are helping to explore the question of:  Is there a determinable correlation between clam shells easily observed on the surface of the intertidal zone and of the live clam populations that live beneath the surface?  They hope to find out if there is an easier way to get data on live clam populations, in a given area, without having spend as much time and energy in digging for the clams.  If a measurable and accurate correlation exists, this could give researchers an easy way to estimate clam populations without having to spend as much precious time and man power searching for clams that lay hidden in the sand and in between rocks.

In the past few months, Students have defined a baseline monitoring area 400 meters wide (the same area used as ODFW to do their study) and set nine transects within the baseline.  One survey of these transects has been completed.  Two more surveys will be conducted before the 2013-14 school year ends.

Transects Image

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo gather data, students walk  transects and record the type of shells (Full NLN Clam shell, Half NLN Clam shell, and Live NLN Clam) found on the surface of intertidal zone.  The student surveyors are using GPS devices to record locations of shells and data sheets to record the type of clam shell found.  Over time, these results will be compiled and compared with data collected by ODFW’s survey for live clam populaitons in this area.  As this pilot project is reviewed, methodologies may be changed to gather more specific or different data.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs this program progresses and new information comes in, updates on our findings and activities will be posted!

Thank you to Scott Groth (ODFW), Charlie Plybon (Surfrider Foundation), Bob Brown and the students of Pacific High School, all our partners, and volunteers who have helped put this opportunity together and who continue to work on this citizen science project!

If you would like to get involved in this project or any of our other citizen science opportunities, please email:, or call: 541-332-0627 and ask for Tyson.